Meet Me at Lennon’s (Melanie Myers, UQP)
In her debut novel, Melanie Myers delves into an under-explored area of Brisbane history: the influx of US soldiers during World War II and how their presence affected the social conventions of the time. The titular Lennon’s refers to a popular social club, and the story alternates between World War II and a contemporary timeline. Hinging the two is Olivia, the main character, who in the contemporary timeline is writing a doctorate on a playwright who features in the World War II timeline. As a conceit, this link is not wholly successful, the play and playwright not crucial enough to the plot to provide the anchor necessary with dual timelines. This lack of focus is an overarching problem within the novel: while the depiction of Brisbane during World War II and the emphasis on women’s experiences on the home front is well realised and engaging, the contemporary timeline feels aimless in comparison. The best parts of Meet Me at Lennon’s are set in the past, involving the women’s stories. I wonder if this novel would have been more successful as a work of historical fiction, rather than attempting to capitalise on the current popularity of dual timeline narratives.
Kate Cuthbert is program manager at Writers Victoria